Bengals safety Chinedum Ndukwe's fourth NFL season ended with a major knee injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers in mid-December. With an expiring contract, Ndukwe will be designated as a restricted free agent until the Collective Bargaining Agreement redefines the accrued seasons necessary to become an unrestricted free agent. However, unlike Johnathan Joseph, Brandon Johnson and Nate Livings, Ndukwe wasn't tendered a contract on Wednesday -- which as we've said before, is largely a meaningless gesture.
An unfortunate consequence with the owners locking out their players is that those players rehabilitating from injuries in 2010 or offseason surgery, won't be able to rehabilitate at the stadium with the team's trainers. Nor will they have health insurance. So in order to continue rehabilitating, players have to find a new place to workout. In Chinedum Ndukwe's case, that's Scottsdale, Arizona.
Ndukwe played 12 games in 2010, posting 58 tackles which led the secondary at the time of his injury. Ndukwe also recorded a fumble recovery, three passes defensed and share sack.
According to Pro Football Focus, Ndukwe graded with a score of 3.4 (second-best among defensive backs). His pass rush score of 4.3 ranked third on the team, behind Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. On the other hand, only three players scored worse than Ndukwe's -2.9 on pass coverage.
We would find it surprising, however, if the team doesn't make an effort to bring Ndukwe back especially consider that the team only has two safeties under contract through 2011.